Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer rock solid at Ryder Cup
Not many people expected Sam Torrance to play Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer, his two most serious campaigners, together again on Saturday morning. But then Torrance did a lot of things in this Ryder Cup that came straight out of left field.
The German and the Scot had combined beautifully the previous day, earning 11⁄2 points. Surely, though, it was time for each of them to take the hand of a rookie and lead him around The Belfry, right? Wrong.
Torrance sent the two veterans against the American pairing of Scott Verplank and Scott Hoch. It proved to be another of Torrance’s master strokes.
It was a tense tussle for 16 holes, but the European pair broke through when Langer hit a perfect 7-iron to the par-5 17th green. Montgomerie then hit an equally perfect putt to give them a 1-up lead they would hold with a halve at the 18th.
Langer has hit many glorious iron shots over his long career, but perhaps never a better one than he hit Saturday morning.
“Mentally it was very important to win the game,” Langer said. “It would not have been much fun having been 2 up, and coming into 18 and even losing the match or tying it.”
It was a huge psychological lift for the Europeans. In other matches, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood continued their impressive partnership with a 2-and-1 victory over Stewart Cink and Jim Furyk; Phil Mickelson and David Toms took care of European rookies Pierre Fulke and Phillip Price, 2 and 1; and Woods and Love had an easy 4-and-3 victory over Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn. Those results meant Europe needed something out of the third match.
More importantly, it allowed Europe to maintain the one-point lead it held after Friday’s play.
The Europeans emerged from the morning session with a 61⁄2-51⁄2 lead.
“It was one of those mornings when any of the matches could have gone either way, and 2-2 was probably about right,” Torrance said. “Our aim was to stay out in front and we’ve done that.”
Many feel this may have been Langer’s last Ryder Cup after 10 appearances stretching back to 1981, and Montgomerie gave the German a fitting tribute.
“The whole team wanted to play with this guy, and I was the lucky guy to have the opportunity to play with him,” Montgomerie said. “Whether or not this is his last or he has many more Ryder Cups to play, I was honored to play with him in 1991, 1997 and now. He’s the best partner the world can have.”